15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep…” John 21:15-17
This passage from John is one of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Not sure of what to do next, Peter and the apostles decide to go fishing when Jesus appears. They are overjoyed to see him but I can imagine Peter having a little trepidation, after all he did deny knowing Jesus three times between the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.
Yet Jesus does not berate Peter, Jesus does not cast Peter aside, rather He asks him a simple, yet at the same time hard question “do you love me?” Peter felt hurt at the third time, but perhaps Peter did not immediately realize the significance. In Matthew 18:21 it is Peter who asks Jesus “how many times should I forgive?” and Jesus gives the theological answer “Seven times seventy”. In Judaism, the number seven signifies perfection and ten signifies completeness, so Jesus calls us to forgive perfection x (perfection x completeness).
In plain words, Jesus has forgiven Peter completely and perfectly, reinstates him as an Apostle and gives him the charge to “feed my sheep”, to feed the word of God to the people.
Jesus does not give up on anyone, rather He offers forgiveness and purpose.
Today, as you go about your work, take some time to reflect on this and give thanks.
Peace, Pastor Bill